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Protect Sultan jealously, Shettima urges Sokoto govt

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Vice President, Kashim Shettima has told the government of Sokoto State that His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III must be guarded jealously.

He said this yesterday while delivering a keynote address at the opening of the inaugural North-West Peace and Security Summit holding in Katsina.

His remarks came after the executive director of Muslim Rights Council (MURIC), Prof Isiaq Akintola, raised the alarm that the Sokoto State Government was allegedly plotting to depose the Sultan.

The development is coming amid the controversy and tension over the deposition of some monarchs in Kano State.

Governor Ahmed Aliyu of Sokoto State was represented at the summit by his Deputy, Hon. Idris Gobir.

“I want to use our father, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, who is a permanent picture in all developmental issues in this country, as my point of reference to recognise and appreciate all our royal fathers present here”.

“And I have a simple message for the deputy governor of Sokoto. Yes, His Eminence is the Sultan of Sokoto, but he is more than that; he represents an idea. He is an institution that all of us in this country need to jealously guard, protect, promote, preserve and project for the good of our nation”, the Shettima said.

The vice president was obviously reacting to the alleged move by the Sokoto State Government to depose the monarch.

Governor Aliyu had earlier deposed 15 traditional rulers for various offences.

The Sokoto State Government is yet to react to MURIC’s allegation, but it earlier said there was a plan to amend section 76 of the local government and chieftaincy law to align with prevailing practices within the state.

Under the current law, the authority to appoint district and village heads lies with the Sultanate Council. However, in practice, the council merely provides recommendations to the state government, while the governor ultimately makes the appointments.

The state’s attorney-general and commissioner for justice, Nasir Binji had clarified that the proposed amendment aimed to synchronise the legal framework with the customary procedure in Sokoto.

Addressing journalists after a State Executive Council meeting, Binji explained that under the proposed amendment, the Sultanate Council would retain the power to recommend candidates, while the authority to appoint would be vested in the governor.

A senior government official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Daily Trust yesterday that the amended law was not intended to depose the monarch.

“Governor Aliyu is not making any move to dethrone Sultan. The law is just amended to be in harmony with the existing practices”, he explained.

Sokoto Assembly dismisses deposition fear

When contacted, the Deputy Speaker of the Sokoto State House of Assembly, Kabiru Kware, who currently acts as Speaker, denied knowledge of any move to depose the Sultan of Sokoto.

Kware said, “I only heard about the issue for the first time from you; and I can confidently tell you that there is nothing like this move before the Assembly. It is just mere speculation.

“I can vividly remember that the only bill before us is the one concerning the tenure of local government chairmen. There is nothing related to the Sultanate Council before the State House of Assembly at present”.

Sultanate Council, ACF mum

When also contacted, the secretary to the Sultanate Council and Danburan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’idu Maccido, declined comment on the allegation, saying, “I have to seek the consent of the Sultanate before making any comment on the issue at stake.

A source within the Sultanate said the proposed amendment of the law was not something new as far as the palace was concerned.

“Sincerely speaking, this is not the first time the Sokoto State local government law is amended. The same law was amended during the reign of the former governor, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko. It was that amendment that gave the Sultan legal backing to appoint district and village heads without the interference of the governor.

“So, if today, another government wants to reverse the law to its former status, I think there is nothing wrong in doing that. After all, the law proposed for amendment has nothing to do with the appointment or deposition of the Sultan. This is what many people do not understand.

“The law the state government sent to the State House of Assembly for amendment is called Sokoto State Local Government Law, 2008, which is all about the appointment and not deposition of district and village heads”, he explained.

The law dealing with the appointment of the Sultan is called the Sokoto State Chiefs (appointment and position) Law.

When contacted for comment, the national publicity secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Professor Tukur Muhammad-Baba said, “We are normally hesitatant to comment on rumour; at least not for now”.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Monday, the executive director of MURIC, Prof Isiaq Akintola had urged Nigerian Muslims to reject any thought of deposing the Sultan.

“Feelers in circulation indicate that the governor may descend on the Sultan of Sokoto any moment from now, using any of the flimsy excuses used to dethrone the 15 traditional rulers whom he removed earlier.

“MURIC advises the governor to look before he leaps. The Sultan’s stool is not only traditional, it is also religious. In the same vein, his jurisdiction goes beyond Sokoto. It covers the whole of Nigeria. He is the spiritual head of all Nigerian Muslims. Therefore, any governor who tampers with the stool of the Sultan will have Nigerian Muslims to reckon with because he combines that office with that of the president-general of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA)”, Akintola said.

The MURIC boss warned that Governor Aliyu should not force Nigerian Muslims to take a revolutionary measure.

He said that having a traditional ruler as leader had been a condition Nigerian Muslims accepted a long time ago as a necessary weakness in the structure, which they have to live with.

He said, “A military governor, Col Yakubu Muazu, exposed this soft underbelly when he deposed Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki on 20 April 1996. Nigerian Muslims will be forced to make a hard decision if Sokoto governors continue to diminish the authority of the Sultan.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, Sultan Muhammad Sa’d Abubakar is not only the Sultan of Sokoto but the Sultan of the Nigerian people. His performance and style of leadership have warmed him into the hearts of Nigerians.

“Nigerian Muslims, North and South of the country may be constrained to pick Islamic scholars only as president-general of the NSCIA and overall leader of Nigerian Muslims.

“It will be farewell to the leadership of traditional rulers over the NSCIA and an irreversible departure from Sokoto’s privileged leadership position. But history will not be kind to Col Yakubu Muazu and Ahmed Aliyu for ruining the chances of Sokoto.

“Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence, the third time is enemy action. If the deposition of a Sultan and NSCIA leader happens a second time, Nigerian Muslims will not allow the embarrassment to happen a third time.

“MURIC reiterates its call on the Sokoto State House of Assembly to either repeal or review the state’s chieftaincy laws by adding the phrase, ‘Except the Sultan of Sokoto,’ to section 6, cap 26 of the Laws of Northern Nigeria, which empowers the state governor to depose emirs, including the Sultan.

“We urge northern elites and Islamic scholars based in the North to intervene before it is too late. This is the time to lobby the Sokoto State House of Assembly and the governor himself. If the chieftaincy laws of Kano State can be repealed within 24 hours, nothing stops that of Sokoto State from being reviewed in favour of immunity for the office of the Sultan in a single day to save Nigerian Muslims from humongous embarrassment”.

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